5 tips for coaches on working with clients with ADHD

The other day I was on a call with my coach when a Facebook post appeared on my phone asking for some advice on working with people with ADHD. I got up to water my plants, noticing how dry they were, and while filling each pot and holding the phone in my other hand, I started to think about what to write.

Yes, this stuff comes pretty easy to me because I can relate - very well.  

Those of us who struggle with focus will only struggle more if we are expected to stay still and can't move in some way, so I decided to put together this blog post in the hopes that it would serve as encouragement to coaches who think maybe all their hard work and passion are falling on deaf ears.

My Tips:

1. Coach in person or on Skype. This is a great way to maintain eye contact and help with focus. If you can walk and talk then that is even better. Sitting still is okay but motion releases all the pent up energy and keeps the conversation on point.

2. Have your client use a speakerphone. If you need to coach by phone and your client is somewhere where they can use their space, like at home, then your client can move around (and maybe even water their plants) to deal with the fidgety feeling.

3. Suggest a large exercise ball. If your client is stuck in their office with the door closed, then put forward the idea that they pick up one of those bouncy exercise balls to sit on. These have been terrific for active kids in school and are now making their way into the workplace, and not just for coaching calls. They are also great for trunk strengthening - an added bonus.

4. Tell them to grab something to tinker with. Elastic bands, Rubik's cube and paperclips all work well and keep the hands moving so the brain can concentrate.

5. Allow for swirly topics. Telling stories is especially important if you are trying to organize your thoughts. 'Bottom Lining' is not something that everyone can and should do, especially if it does not serve the client. Allow a little extra time for the sideways discussions. Acknowledge the ADHD and re-group often. Have your client tell you when she is drifting.

Most importantly, trust that the work you are doing is going exactly as it should. Remember that your idea of a perfect session and your client's are likely two very different things. Stay in flow with your client and remember that your ability to 'dance in the moment' and stay connected to your client will be the biggest gift that you can share. 


Judy Mouland has 20 plus years experience personally and professionally working with individuals with LD, ADHD and other co-conditions. She is the former C.E.O of the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada and now works as a Life Coach to empower people to live life on their own terms - no excuses.